Sia’s last album, Colour The Small One, almost didn’t make it out in the U.S. I guess after lackluster sales of her debut a couple years earlier her label not only refused to release the follow-up overseas, they dropped her. But the Adelaide, Australia born singer’s star was already rising. She was a regular guest on efforts by Zero 7, and then out of the blue, “Breathe Me” was plucked from the ether and dropped into the finale of Six Feet Under. Presto-change-o. Instant attention.
Her new album appears with little fanfare today. I mean, I say little fanfare because I didn’t even know it was coming out until the other afternoon, a discovery which accompanied the inadvertent spraying of my monitor with coffee. Fanfare or no, it’s here. Damn that wait seemed long.
It’s another collection of buoyant pieces engineered around her potent, soulful voice. On first spin, the impression is that there’s a different focus this time around. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. There was something timid about Colour The Small One. The beauty there was hesitant and uncertain, like she was offering up the music with a sad yet hopeful smile. This finds her more confident, a little more outrageous. Not to say that her music is more in keeping with the colorful wackiness of her offstage personality. As you’d expect from Sia, there’s plenty of quiet introspection. But there’s also an irrepressible exuberance this time out. On “Electric Bird,” for example, she trots out the horns for a blast of exuberance and bombast. I dig it.
“Academia” teams her up with Beck, in what may be the most whimsical moment on the album, and the song that most seems in keeping with Sia’s offbeat sense of humor and her goofy Australian affect. But only barely. In conversation, she’s a riot. In performace, she opens a different, more introspective door.
Check it out: